Russian revolution!

MELBOURNE, February 19

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev lived up to Novak Djokovic’s praise as the “man to beat” at the Australian Open when he charged into his first Melbourne Park final with an impressive 6-4 6-2 7-5 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas today.

The rangy Medvedev wrapped the Greek fifth seed in a blanket of pressure at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena, capturing his 20th successive victory and 12th straight over top-10 opponents to earn a shot at ending Djokovic’s dynasty in Sunday’s decider.

Stefanos Tsistipas

Fourth seed Medvedev served like a machine until broken in the third set, which revived the Greek fans in the terraces as Tsitsipas roared to a 5-4 lead. But the Russian silenced a hostile crowd with the decisive break in the 11th game, then smacked a forehand into the corner on his first match point to seal it.

“I’m happy to manage to keep my nerves because still I didn’t make so many bad shots,” Medvedev said on court of his anxious third set. “I just tried to hit aces and winners or put the ball in the court. That’s the only way to do (it). That’s how I stayed in the match.” World No. 1 Djokovic, who beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev to reach the final, will be a formidable opponent for Medvedev in his second Grand Slam showpiece match.

The Serbian is bidding for a record-extending ninth title and has never lost a final in Melbourne.

For Tsitsipas, the defeat was not as bitter as his 2019 semifinals demolition by Rafa Nadal. Yet, he paid the price for another slow start, with Medvedev doing what Nadal could not in his five-set quarterfinals loss to Tsitsipas this week – slamming the door on the Greek’s revival.

Tsitsipas has now lost three Grand Slam semis, including a five-set loss to Djokovic at last year’s French Open. After his taxing win over Nadal, the Greek said he felt beaten after two sets against Medvedev, and was not sure winning the third would have helped.

“Let me tell you that he’s a player who has unlocked pretty much everything in the game,” the 22-year-old said of Medvedev. “It’s like he’s reading the game really well.”

After a cagey start on a muggy evening at Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev barged through Tsitsipas’s defences to break in the fifth game. Tsitsipas battled to stay in touch and saved three set points before the Russian thumped an ace down the ‘T’ to seal it. With arms sprawling, Medvedev soaked up all Tsitsipas could throw at him and, after a few rope-a-dope rallies, fired a sizzling forehand winner down the line to break the Greek to lead 2-1 in the second set. Tsitsipas retired to his chair fuming and slammed a bottle of water onto the court, triggering a squadron of towel-toting ballkids to mop up. — Reuters

Actually factually

  • Medvedev reached his 2nd Grand Slam final.
  • The Russian extended his winning streak to 20 matches — that includes a dozen victories against members of the top-10.
  • Tsitsipas has now lost three Grand Slam semis, including a five-set loss to Djokovic at last year’s French Open.
  • Both already have a bit of an uncomfortable history, dating to their first meeting on tour at the 2018 Miami Open. Medvedev won that one — he started their rivalry with a 5-0 edge, although Tsitsipas claimed the most recent matchup before Friday’s — and it ended with some verbal volleying.

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